Acres Gaming Bonusing system is hot!

Mar 6, 2001 6:09 AM

FLYING HIGH IN APRIL . . . Shot down in May? According to the song, that’s life. However, that may not apply to a small Las Vegas gaming company called Acres Gaming (AGAM), where just the opposite appears to be true.

The company makes slot machine bonusing systems. Look for a few of the bigger casinos, such as the Station Casinos (STN) properties, MGM MIRAGE (MGG) and Mandalay Bay Resorts (MBG), to buy into the bonusing systems of AGAM.

Funny how things change. AGAM was fighting to remain listed on NASDAQ only a few months ago. It now appears as if the company is turning around completely. Its 52-week low was 87 cents per share. Today the stock is selling at $2.81. That’s just 19 cents away from its 52-week high of $3.

AGAM reports revenues of $10.2 million for the quarter ending in December, with net income of $1.5 million.

With less than nine million shares outstanding and a continuance of solid earnings, it would be reasonable to assume AGAM will be flying even higher come May. 

STIFF UPPER LIPS! That may be a way to describe comments from Harrah’s Entertainment (HET) or Park Place Entertainment (PPE) following a report last week in this space that Harrah’s may have Park Place on its mind.

According to published reports in other media outlets, unnamed insiders are saying the HET/PPE rumor is old stuff. Conversations along those lines allegedly were discussed following the death of Park Place’s top gun, Arthur Goldberg.

If that information is accurate, the lips muttering such conversations were stiffer than usual.

It is my belief that the unconfirmed rumor is not without merit.

Executives from HET were slated to speak this week at the 22nd Annual Institutional Investors Conference being held by Raymond James & Assoc. It was uncertain at press time if there would be anything uttered by either stiff or loose lips related to the acquisition.

JUST AROUND THE CORNER! "Anyone lucky enough to hear Sara Brightman at the Aladdin over the weekend, or just to be on property to see the action, would certainly be impressed with the turnaround taking place at the Strip’s newest mega-resort," commented one of our readers.

"They’ve done a remarkable job of changing the appearance of the slot floor and, coupled with their magnificent London Club-style action on the second floor, they seem to be on the right road to making the property a success.

"Hotel occupancy has turned around sharply. It approaches 97% for March."

From a rosebud: "But they lack foot traffic, and that won’t come until the (Clark) County starts working on the Harmon intersection. Right now, it looks like a hangout for derelicts. Completion of the project and the addition of a cross-Strip walkway would be a home run for the property."

Meanwhile, negotiations continue between London Clubs International and the Sommer Trust principal over the conversion of LCI’s preferred shares. Word out of London is that successful negotiations would boost LCI’s equity position to over 85% from the current 40%. And it could happen in the next 30 to 60 days, according to London analysts. 

POLICE CALL FOR HELP! According to a pipe, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department needs help to police a 344 square-mile area of the county where four new casinos expect to open this spring.

"The casinos will attract thousands of patrons daily, bringing with them not only their vehicles but money, which could be a target for criminals," the pipe explained. "While Indian reservations are considered sovereign nations — with the right under federal law to govern themselves as would any city, county or state government — they are also subject to state laws when it comes to law enforcement."

From another source: "The California Sheriff’s Association and the California State Attorney General’s office met with the tribes. The tribes are calling for greater law enforcement power for their people. They raised prickly questions about liability, arrest powers and training. Presently, tribal police in California have no arrest powers.

"Look for that to change!"

GamingToday has learned that a bill has already been introduced to allow tribes to have police forces.

Stay tuned. 

LINING UP A JACKPOT? Dog and horseracing tracks in Kansas are trying to seek passage of a bill legalizing slot machines at pari-mutuel operations. The bill is scheduled for debate this week. The track people think they have a shot to get voters in their home counties to approve the measure. Upwards of $50 million a year could be raised — most of the money after the prizes are paid out. About 70% would go to the pari-mutuel tracks. Kansas would get about 20% and the remaining 10% is to be determined.

Kansas Gov. Bill Graves said he does not favor a wholesale expansion of gambling. He cited allowing slots in taverns, clubs and bingo parlors, and American Legion halls as examples. But it was learned that he has no qualms about allowing the slot machines only at the racetracks.

"People are going to the tracks to gamble already," Graves was quoted. 

FOR THE LOVE OF DISCOUNTED SEATS! Former TWA Chairman Carl Icahn — perhaps in an effort to preserve the right to buy unlimited quantities of TWA tickets at a discount (upwards of $35 million worth) — has come up with another offer to finance a plan to reorganize the bankrupt airline.

It competes with takeover bids by American Airlines and others to buy out TWA. Icahn has accumulated a substantial portion of TWA debt.

Investment banker Brian Freeman heads Icahn’s new plan. If the Icahn group offer is accepted, it is expected that Icahn would not be involved in the day-to-day operations of TWA as he was in the late 1980s. After all, Carl has Las Vegas casinos on his front burner. He would probably be happy to keep the rights to the discounted tickets, which could be sold by his website.